Whenever the Christian learns to love the gift more than the Giver, the Lord takes it often away to remind him of his need of dependence upon Him.
John Daniel Loest, a celebrated German tradesman of Berlin, Germany, was, by the aid of the Lord, so prospered in his worldly circumstances, that by steady industry, he raised himself to rank with the most respectable tradesmen of Berlin, where he kept a well-frequented fringe and trimming shop.
He was always benevolent, willing to help others, and both fervent in spirit and constant in prayer, asking the help of the Lord in the minutest details of his business.
Yet there once occurred in his experience a season of severest trial, which demanded his utmost trust and unflinching confidence in God. He seemed almost forsaken, and circumstances almost impossible to overcome. But his deliverance so astonished him that he was lost in wonder at the mysterious way in which the Lord helped his business and sent him all that he needed.
By means of acquaintances of high social character, whom he fully trusted as good Christians, never supposing there could be any degree of hypocrisy, he became security for a Christian lady of good property to the amount of six hundred thalers [approximately $100,000]. The attorney assured him that there was not a shadow of a risk in going security for her, as her property would be more than ample to cover any claim.
Months elapsed, and the circumstance forgotten, when Mr. Loest was most unpleasantly reminded by receiving an order from the Court to pay in on the following Tuesday the six hundred thalers for which he had become security, under the penalty of execution.
He now discovered that he had been designedly mystified, and there was no escape. The six hundred thalers must be paid before the next Tuesday. He had just accepted a bill for three hundred thalers, to be paid for on the ensuing Saturday. And in his first thoughts of his perplexity, he hoped to get out of his dilemma by hurrying to a rich friend to obtain a loan. On his way to his friend’s home, he stumbled on another acquaintance who had lent him four hundred thalers on a mere note of hand, and he saluted him with the news that he must try for repayment of that sum on the following Friday, as he required it to pay for a parcel of goods which would arrive that day.
“You shall have it,” said Loest, as he hurried on to his friend. The friend was at home, but before Loest could speak his errand, he is addressed thus: “It is lucky you came, my friend, for I was just going to send for you, to request you to make provision to pay me back the five hundred thalers you owe me, for I must needs have it on Wednesday to pay off a mortgage on my house, which has just been called up.” “You shall have it,” replied Loest, calmly, yet his heart became heavier every moment.
Suddenly it occurred to him that the widow of a friend just dead was possessed of large means, and she might be inclined to help him. But alas, disappointment thickened fast upon him. Loest owed the deceased friend five hundred thalers for note, and three hundred thalers for goods just delivered. As he entered the room of the widow, she handed him an order from the court of trustees, under which he was bound to pay up the five hundred thalers on Thursday, and, continued the lady, before the poor man had time to utter a word, “I would earnestly entreat you to pay the other three hundred thalers early on Saturday to me, for there are accounts constantly pouring in on me, and the funeral expenses,” here her voice faltered. “It shall be cared for,” said Loest, and he withdrew, not having had opportunity to utter one word as to the business that took him thither. He had failed at every turn; not one thing was for him, all seemed against him. But though the waves surged, and rose, and oppressed, yet they did not overwhelm his hope; the more the discouragements, the greater became his faith that all things were appointed for his good, and thought he could not guess, yet even the trial would result by God’s own working hand, to the honor and glory of his great name.
Yet here was his situation. Six hundred thalers to be paid on Tuesday, five hundred on Wednesday, five hundred on Thursday, four hundred on Friday, three hundred Saturday morning, and three hundred on Saturday afternoon; in all, two thousand six hundred thalers. It was already the Saturday just previous, and his purse contained only four thalers. There was only one prospect left, and he went to a rich money lender, and in response to his request for relief in money difficulties, was met with this reply of irony and sarcasm from one who loved to indulge his enmity to the Christian faith. “You in money difficulties, or any difficulties, Mr. Loest! I cannot believe it; it is altogether impossible! you are at all times and in all places boasting that you have such a rich and loving Master! Why don’t you apply to him now.” And the unseen face could not conceal his pleasure at this opportunity of testing a Christian.
Loest turned away; hard as the random taunt and remark of his opponent was, yet it recalled him to a sense of his duty, and his forgetfulness of the fact that he had not hitherto asked of God for special help in this circumstance. With cheerful steps he hurried home, and in long and imploring prayer, asked for help and forgiveness in this, his neglect of trust in one so rich and generous. He was refreshed and comforted, and the Sunday was one of peace and sweetness. He knew and felt assured, “That the Lord would provide.”
The eventful week opened, and on Monday he arose with a cheerful thought in his heart; ere he had had full time to dress, he noticed with great surprise, that both his sister and the assistant in the store, seemed, notwithstanding the earliness of the hour, to have full as much as they could do in serving customers and making up parcels, and he at once hastened into the shop to give them assistance, and thus it continued all day. Never, in all his experience, could Loest remember such a ceaseless stream of customers as poured, on that memorable Monday, into his rather out-of-the-way shop. Cooking dinner was out of the question; neither masters nor maid had time for that; coffee and bread, taken by each in turn, served instead of the accustomed meal, and still the customers came and went; still three pairs of hands were in requisition to satisfy their wants.
Nor was it for new purchasers alone, that money came in. More than one long outstanding account, accompanied by excuses for delayed payment, and assurances that it had not been possible to settle it sooner, enlarged the contents of the till; and the honest-hearted debtor, on whom this unwonted stream of money flowed in, was tempted every minute to call out, “It is the Lord.”
At length night came, when Loest and his literally worn out assistants, after having poured out their hearts in thankful adoration in family prayer, sat down to the first meal they had that day enjoyed in common. When it was over, the brother and sister set themselves to count over the money which had that day been taken. Each hundred thalers was set by itself, and the result showed six hundred and three thalers, fourteen silver groschen.
This was sufficient to pay the first debt due the next day, and leave but ten shillings and eight pence over, a trifle less than they commenced the day with. Loest was lost in wonder and grateful emotion at this gracious testimony of how faithfully his Lord could minister to him in his earthly necessities.
“How countless must be the host of his ministering servants, seen or unseen, since He can employ some hundreds of them, and send them to buy of Daniel Loest to-day, or pay him that bill which thou owest. What a wondrous God is ours, who in the government of this great universe, does not overlook my mean affairs, nor forget His gracious promise, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.’”
Tuesday was a repetition of Monday’s splendid business, and brought in the five hundred thalers which he needed the next morning to pay off the mortgage of his friend’s house, due that day.
Wednesday’s sales gave him five hundred more thalers, which he was obliged to have ready to pay on Thursday morning into the court of trustees.
Thursday’s sales brought him four hundred thalers, just the amount he had given promise to pay the next day for goods delivered.
And Friday’s sales gave him just three hundred thalers with which to honor the widow’s demand on Saturday, to pay funeral and contingent expenses.
During these days of wonderful business and deliverances, after each indebtedness was discharged, there still was not left cash in hand a sum exceeding three to five dollars.
On Saturday morning, after he had sent the three hundred thalers to the widow, he had left precisely two thalers and twenty silver groschen (six shillings eight pence sterling), the smallest balance he had yet had; and what seemed most alarming, the rush to the shop seemed to be entirely over; for while during the five days past, he had had scarcely time to draw his breath from hurry and bustle, he was now left in undisturbed possession of his place. Not a single customer appeared. The wants of the vicinity seemed to have come to an end, for not a child even entered to fetch a pennyworth of thread, or a few ells of tape. This utter cessation of trade was as unusual and out of the accustomed shop business, as the extra rush had been.
At five o’clock on Saturday, was due the debt of three hundred thalers to his scoffing and tantalizing money lender. Three o’clock came, and still there was but six shillings eight pence in the till. Where was his money to come from? But Loest sat still, and “possessed his soul in patience” for he knew the Lord would choose the best time, and he desired to be found waiting and watching for the Lord’s coming. The trial was severe. It seemed hopeless, and if it should happen that, the creditor came and went away unsatisfied, his commercial character would be injured, his credit shaken, and his reputation severely suffer. That last hour ran slowly on. At a quarter to four, almost the last few moments of painful suspense, a little old woman came in, and asking for Mr. Loest, said to him half in a whisper, “I live here close by, quite alone, in a cellar, and I have had a few thalers paid me, and now I want to beg of you to be so good as to keep them for me. I have not slept over night since I had them; it is a great charge for a lone woman like me.”
Loest was only too glad to accept the money, and offered interest, which she declined. She hurried back, brought in her money, counted it out on his table, and there were just three hundred thalers, six rouleaux of fifty thalers each.
She had scarcely left the house, with her receipt in her pocket, ere the clerk of the creditor with his demand in his hand, rushed into Loest’s presence. He received his three hundred thalers, and both parted speechless with amazement.
Loest was lost in wonder at the marvelous way and exactness of time in which the Lord delivered him, while the creditor was astonished thus to find Loest’s Mighty Friend had not failed him in his hour of need.
Thus in one short week, from a beginning of less than five thalers, God had so exactly supplied his business needs that he had paid all his obligations of two thousand six hundred thalers, saved him from failure, saved his honor and good name, and now all was peace.
The history of Loest and other providences which helped him in his business, are still further given more at length in a little book, “The Believing Tradesman,” from the records of the Religious Tract Society of Berlin.
This sketch illustrates the necessity of looking to God daily for help, and strength, and success, and deliverance in our business occupations as well as the concerns of our soul, and must effectively prove that those who use their business and the means from it to honor the good works of the Lord on earth, will be blessed on earth with the favor of the Lord. It teaches the sublime lesson that money and prosperity are gifts from the Lord, and must be considered as such, acknowledged with thankfulness, and used to please the Giver.
Whenever the Christian learns to love the gift more than the Giver, the Lord takes it often away to remind him of his need of dependence upon Him. But whenever the Christian loves the Giver because of His gifts, and spends his means again to please his Heavenly Father, he becomes the Father’s steward, and his lap is filled with bountiful blessings, such as one finds by true experience, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”